Archive for April, 2007

Nice Present

Hydrangea Present from my fiancee

I am a lucky gal. Last night, my fiancee surprised me with a pot of purple hydrangeas. Isn’t he the best! He was at the store and thought I would like them. Awww. These aren’t the florist hydrangeas. They’re the ones you find at the nursery so they’re a hardy variety.

Of lately, I’ve been marveled with the growth in my garden. It seems like my tomatoes have doubled in size and have been flowering. The supersweet 100s are flowering like crazy. My patio hybrid has started to get a thick stem and have flowered large flowers. I’ll let that produce to see how big they fruit. They’re suppose to be great container tomato plants and supposed to look like this. I’ve been pinching back some of the flowers on my other tomato plants (Roma, Marglobe, & Supersweets)to encourage top and side growth and to ensure a bigger crop in the summer.

My cucumbers, on the other hand, aren’t doing too well. Some of the one’s I planted on the side of my fence have shriveled up and died. Luckily, I have extra transplants but nonetheless it makes me sad 😦 The cucumbers on the other side of the fence are doing much better producing new leaves. Ergh…nature is so unpredictable.

A couple of days ago, I was able to harvest a handful of strawberries for dessert. A light dusting of sugar is all is needed for a good snack. The ones in the ground are doing much better than the ones in the hanging basket.

I soaked some sweet pea seeds last night. I’ll pot them up tomorrow morning in a 1-gallon container and see if I can grow pretty sweet pea blooms. Last year, I only got one silly sweet pea flower (boo). My coworker told me that sweet peas reseed themselves at the end of the season. She said the peas, after they mature, will twist and twist until they pop and reappear next year. We’ll see if this theory pans out.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try and clean up and pot up the seedlings I have on my gardening table. I was an overachiever this season with my endeavors at seed starting. I have way too many pepper and tomato seeds.

Let’s move on to my flowers:

  • My calendulas, in the past couple of months were blooming like crazy but recently have been puttering out. I’ll let them go to seed and start new ones for the summer. They have given me a lot of flowers for the various flower arrangements I have in my home. They are very easy to grow and I highly recommend them.
  • The hollyhocks, asters, more calendulas, zinnias, poppies are steadily growing next to my fence. They don’t like a lot of sun so I’ve placed pots next to them to shield them from the hot sun.
  • The geraniums are producing flowers like crazy. I love geraniums. They were the first plant I have successfully propagated from a stem cutting. They’re easy to produce from a thick branch. I hope they can last til my wedding. I would love to showcase them in September
  • The petunias are gradually getting their footing and blooming.
  • The stocks and snapdragons are slowly blooming. Anyday now, I’ll have a blooming garden!

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Nice Potting Soil

Stocks Dwarf 10 Weeks

I finally found a really good potting soil for a decent price. At Orchard Supply Hardware, they are selling their own potting soil for $3.99 for 25 quarts. When buying soil, especially potting soil, you should take a peak of what it is before buying it. Luckily, some other fellow gardeners took that hint and had poked a hole in one of the potting soil bags. The soil was magnificent. It was light and airy and it looks like there were some perlite in it too. If you can’t make your own potting soil (equal parts of peat moss or alternative to peat moss, perlite and vermiculite), I would definitely recommend this variety. The soil bags that are opened are normally discounted at the end of the season, so watch out for those too! You’ll get a great deal on those.

This morning, I put some petunias and stocks into a green container I had bought at the $.99 store. They look so pretty together and they had enough room! When the stocks die in the summer, I’ll replace it with some other flowers. I’m thinking “Chinese Lanterns”. I absolutely fell in love with Chinese Lanterns when I was following the grow along post on chinese lanterns on ygg

I also noticed that I had some squares that weren’t being used. I think I’ll put edamame or soy beans in one of the squares but for the other one, I’m not sure…maybe some garden beans or green beans. I also want to add some more flowers to my vegetable beds. Right now, I have some marigolds, nasturtiums, and cosmos.

I’m also going to start some more geranium cuttings. I want to see if I can get them big enough and to get them to bloom before my wedding in September. I want tons of plants and flowers in the reception area. It’s going to be a garden themed wedding so the more plants, the better!

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April is Gardening Month

My avocado sprout
The above picture is of my avocado sprout. It took it awhile but here it is!!!

I’ve been preparing for the rain these past couple of days. I transplanted my eggplant seedlings into a pot I had and I also put one in the ground. I made sure that I didn’t put it in the same spot as I did last year b/c diseases can be transferred year to year. It’s always a good idea to move crops around every 3 years to ensure no transfers of diseases or fungi.

I put my nasturtium into the same square I have my Marglobe tomato to deter aphids and other bugs. This is my first year growing nasturtium, and probably most of the other seedlings I have, and they are so pretty. They’re pretty fast growers and bloom early in the season. Nasturtiums are also edible, although I haven’t eaten one myself. The flowers are gourgeous!

This year, I’m attempting to companion plant to deter bugs and pests and also to enhance flavor. I have onions next to my tomatoes. As mentioned above, nasturtiums next to my tomatoes, marigolds next to the tomatoes also, basil (Thai and Italian) with tomatoes, and so much more I can’t think of at the moment.

I also moved my zucchini outside into the ground and in a large pot. I’m experimenting with containers this year b/c I might be moving to a second floor apartment where there is no dirt to get “diiirty” but instead a big balcony. This year, I’m growing tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, strawberries, and eggplant in containers. I hope they do well this season. I just went outside and it was very warm so my seedlings will be super happy!

Well, I’m off to Orchard Supply Hardware to get some potting soil and some plant tags and maybe other items that I see… They’re having a special this weekend where they pay for the sales tax. They’re celebrating the end of “tax season”. Good for me!!!

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Petunia Growing Tips

I potted my petunia seedlings into individual pots of their own. Two of them were already blooming! Some people hate petunias because they are annuals and you have to buy seeds every year but I absolutely love them and if you can make the petunias produce seeds, you won’t have to fork out money to get new seeds every year. Petunias have a soft spot in my heart. They were the first flowers I’ve ever grown from seed. Mind you, these grow very slowly from seed. It takes probably a month before they are ready to transplant, but when they get full sun and warmth they really take off. I’ll pinch the flowers when they fade. Petunias typically bloom twice in a season and if you pinch them, you’ll get more flowers.

Last year, I actually collected petunia seeds from my flowers. Here’s how to collect the seeds:

1. After the second bloom appears, take a paint brush and hand pollinate the flowers.

2. In a couple of weeks, you’ll have a large seed pod. The seed pods will burst if you’re not watching so I put a tulle bag underneath the pods to capture all the tiny seeds. The seeds are tiny like specks of pepper so store them carefully.

The picture above shows my petunias early in the season last year. With some pinching, they are blooming like crazy. The other pictures are of a petunia seed pod and the subsequent seeds that followed.

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Beginning of Spring!

I’ve been busily transplanting seedlings in the ground since the weather has been so nice. I transplanted the cucumbers (Marketmore variety) in the ground. I transplanted my peppers in the ground too. Peppers, eggplant, and especially tomatoes need warmth from the beginning of their life cycle. It took my pepper seeds 10 days to sprout but once I put them in the sun, they thrived and grew exponentially. We’ve been getting steady temps of 70’s and above so I thought it would be okay to put the peppers in the ground. Just make sure you cover them with some cloth or a cloche (I use an old washed out 1-gallon milk jugs with the bottoms cut off) if you’re expecting a cold spell.

I have been pulling the cold-weather veggies out of the ground and enjoying them in dishes or salads. I made my first ever Swiss chard dish that included garlic, oil, butter, lemon juice, and onion. It was good but I think I put too much lemon juice and it was a little sour. I was amazed at how much it shrunk. No wonder it’s a close relative to spinach. I’ve been having a salad daily since my lettuce plants are growing so well. The only thing I’ve added are some store-bought cucumbers and salad dressing. Hopefully, during the summer, I’ll have some home-grown cucumbers to add to my salad.

I’ve also been unloading the extra tomato and jalapeno seedlings to coworkers and family. My backyard garden looks so green with all the healthy seedlings but I definitely don’t have enough space for them all so they’ve slowly found homes elsewhere. A perk with this is that I get the extra fruits from the people who are growing my seeds. In other words, I’m enjoying the “fruits of their labor”!

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Cucumbers and Squash are Sprouting

Goldenbush Zucchini Seedling (10 days)

The cucumbers I planted last Sunday are finally sprouting. It took them around a week to pop their cute little heads out of the soil. This spring, I am going to try my hand at Square Foot Gardening and am going to vertically train the cucumbers up along my fence. I love cucumbers so I’m growing a lot to ensure ample production (12 seeds). I’m also growing early prolific squash in a self-watering container as well as in the ground. We’ll see how well each does this season!

Yesterday, I brought in some tomato and jalapeno seedlings in for my coworkers. The funny thing was when I was walking to work with my box full of seedlings, everyone stopped me and asked me if I was selling them. Um…another entrepreneurial opportunity? Nah, maybe next year! It was such a compliment though b/c it said something about my seedlings: they looked good enough to buy!

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Garden Chores

Impatiens seedlings

Today, I spent most of the afternoon in my garden soaking up the rays and transplanting seedlings to individual containers. I transplanted tiny tim tomatoes and roma tomatoes out of their jiffy pellets to pots. I also potted some carrots and lettuce (tipburn variety). I transplanted the hollyhocks, asters, and calendulas on a 1′ x 5′ piece of dirt by my fence door. On the right of it, I transplanted some morning glories. Hopefully, in a couple of months, I’ll have pretty blooms from all corners of my porch!

Last night, I started some more cilantro, cucumber (straight 8s and marketmore), squash (early prolific) in jiffy pellets. I also started some sweet williams and nasturtiums.

The weather for the rest of the week is predicted to be in the 70’s so my plants will have a great little vacation outside on the porch.

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